Reviewers Rating: Excellent
Our first time on St. Thomas. We didn't want the stress of driving a car (driving on the left, difficult roads to navigate, taxi's needing to take up both lanes in turns, etc) and wanted some choices for places to eat and snorkeling nearby.
The Renaissance was great! Beautiful landscaping, large rooms, wonderful views, in room refrigerator and wet bar, and a nice beach. The rooms in buildings 21 - 23 have the best views. Yes, there are some stairs to climb but there aren't that many.
Room prices during low season were lower than Frenchmans Reef or the Wyndham. Meal prices at the cafe and Baywinds are about usual for island hotels (comparable to Hawaii for example). The food was good but not extraordinary and it was nice to have options nearby.
Coki beach, Coral World, and Romano's (a really good Italian restaurant)are within easy walking distance. Go to the dive center, continue on the path to the road, turn right to Coki beach and Coral World. Turn left to Romano's - it's in an old house about half a block east of Smith Bay road (you can walk out the entrance of the resort along Smith Bay road but there's more traffic that way)
Fungi's is on the beach next to the Renaissance and has great burgers and salads. You can walk up the hill (steep climb)through Point Pleasant Resort from Fungi's to Agave Terrace. It's OK but I didn't see why some people rave over it. Romano's is better -and also Herve in Charlotte Amalie - for about the same prices.
Snorkeling off the beach at the Renaissance was interesting. The water was waist to neck high and then dropped off where the sailboats anchor. Lots of variety - small and medium sized fish. Looked like a place that many juvenile fish hang out. Among others, we saw a lobster, black and white urchin, small barracuda, and thousands of minnows.
Coki had more and larger fish - probably because of the feeding and deeper water. Got some great underwater shots there. At first, I was a bit worried about being bothered by the beach vendors but they aren't aggressive at all. A simple no thanks with a smile and they didn't ask again.
Also, even though the area around the resort is somewhat poor, I always felt safe (taking common precautions)- even walking to and from Romano's in the early evening. There's a mini market along Smith Bay road where Coki beach road intersects. We got sodas and snacks there and also got some amazing fruit at a stand nearby.
We tried something interesting in shopping in Charlotte Amalie - went to Zora's. She custom makes sandals for you. You need to make 3 different trips there to get them measured, fitted, and then finally trimmed. Not cheap - about $120. Her shop is on Main Street - a couple of blocks east of the main shopping district.
Red Hook had a little less tacky tourist stuff - has some surf shops etc. Reminded me more of the kind of shops in Hawaii.